NPR logo "Take Two Bile Beans And Call Me In The Morning" (And Other Vintage Ads)

Science

"Take Two Bile Beans And Call Me In The Morning" (And Other Vintage Ads)

For decades, peddlers of medicine have used bright colors and flashy slogans to advertise their wares. These posters — from a collection of over 50 on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through July 31— may not be particularly accurate, but they are beautifully designed.

Nothing says glamor like this 40s era ad for Bile Beans, a laxative remedy for all kinds of complaints. It contained aloin, an aloe extract no longer considered safe, as well as peppermint oil, cardamom and wheat flour. Philadelphia Museum of Art hide caption

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Philadelphia Museum of Art

Published around 1910, this Spanish print advertised a medicine used to reduce the intense pain of gout. Leonetto Cappiello/Philadelphia Museum of Art hide caption

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Leonetto Cappiello/Philadelphia Museum of Art

The first International Hygiene Exhibition was held at the Hygiene Museum in Dresden. One of the principal sponsors of the event had a strange dream about a giant eye, and the poster was based on this image. Franz von Stuck/Philadelphia Museum of Art hide caption

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Franz von Stuck/Philadelphia Museum of Art

"Man as Industrial Palace" was printed in 1926, when Germany's chemical industry was the most advanced in the world. Fritz Kahn/Philadelphia Museum of Art hide caption

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Fritz Kahn/Philadelphia Museum of Art

Sparklet Nasal "completely cures head colds" and is "invaluable for all ailments of the respiratory passages." All you have to do is stick something in your nose. (French, c. 1900-1905) G. Berni/Philadelphia Museum of Art hide caption

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G. Berni/Philadelphia Museum of Art

This medicine from turn-of-the-century America claimed to cure "Coughs, Colds, Influenza, Hoarsenenss, Croup, Bronchitis, [and] Incipient Consumption." It contained heroin. Philadelphia Museum of Art hide caption

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Philadelphia Museum of Art